Development of an Evidence-based Online Veteran Healthcare Course

Research Paper Title

Meeting the needs of the 21st century veteran: Development of an evidence-based online veteran healthcare course.


Over 12% of those living in the United States over the age of 18 years old are veterans and they represent some of the most resilient yet vulnerable populations in the healthcare system (Newport, 2012). The Veterans Healthcare System (VA) was created with the mission to provide healthcare to our veteran population. The VA uses a two-step process to evaluate claims for benefits. First, the claimant must meet and verify eligibility criteria for veterans’ benefits in general. Second, the veteran must prove entitlement to the particular benefit being sought (Szymendera, 2016). However, of the 21.7 million eligible veterans, just less than nine million veterans receive care in the VA system (United States Department of Veterans Affairs [VA], 2016a).

In 2014 the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, also known as the Veterans Choice Programme, was passed allowing veterans to receive care outside of the VA if they must wait more than 30 days for service, live greater than 40 miles from a VA, or have excessive travel burdens (Harper et al., 2016). It was found that 16% of veterans have a service-connected disability, but only 38% of those actually receive care at a VA; those not receiving care at the VA or within the Military Health System (MHS), are being treated by civilian entities (Moss, Moore, & Selleck, 2015). This equates to approximately 18 million, or roughly three quarters of the veteran population, being seen in the civilian sector for reasons that include geographical availability, personal preference, or even lack of awareness regarding eligibility.

With the institution of the Veterans Choice Programme, nursing education programmes need to incorporate education on delivering culturally competent care for the veteran population (Harper et al., 2016). The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and implementation of a veteran health course that educates nurses to provide care for the veteran seeking services in the civilian sector. Nurses are on the frontlines of healthcare completing patient assessments, initiating interventions, and evaluating treatment plans. They may be the first to encounter a veteran in crisis or experiencing physical and/or psychological co-morbidities secondary to their military service. It is imperative that they are trained and educated to recognise how to care and advocate for the Nation’s veterans and their families.


Rossiter, A.G., Morrison-Beedy, D., Capper, T. & D’Aoust, R.F. (2018) Meeting the needs of the 21st century veteran: Development of an evidence-based online veteran healthcare course. Journal of Professional Nursing. 34, pp.280-283.


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